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The Bookish Babies 2013

2013This year I failed miserably in my plan to talk about my girls every season or so. Truth is there hasn’t been that much to tell really, as I felt it would be boring for everyone if I just said they’re growing like weeds and still loving story time every three months or so. But as it’s been a year, now I can brag a bit and show them off. And I want to talk a bit about an unexpected effect being a mum to two girls has had on my reading.  Continue reading »

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The Bookish Babies 2012

20122012 was an eventful year for Casa Fantastical Librarian as we went from one Bookish Baby to two Bookish Babies. Our Cat was born on March 8th and life hasn’t been the same since. Of course, we’d never expected it to be, but it’s a fun ride in any case. It’s been fantastic to watch the girls interact and see how much they love each other. Emma is super caring and always wants to help out, giving Cat toys, her pacifier, reading to her, making her laugh and cuddling—even if Cat really rather wouldn’t!

Emma is growing and developing at an amazing pace. I’ve written before about how she was already recognising letters left and right and she’s only been getting better at it. She can recognise the entire alphabet now and all numbers, count to twenty (with only a little coaching once she reaches sixteen) and she knows a couple of her books by heart. The latter is pretty cute, as she’ll pull out the book and start reading it to herself or Cat and say it exactly right, only sometimes she’ll have the book upside down. She’s also talking up a storm and sometimes she’ll say something so world-wise, she’ll just melt my heart.

She’s also discovered the magic of animated films. At the moment she’s completely enchanted with Despicable Me, though she also loves Howl’s Moving Castle, The Lion King and Horton Hears a Who. She’ll be surprisingly attentive for quite a long time, though we usually watch them in several sittings as she’ll wander off after a while. She’ll also incorporate the stories into her play, when she’s playing with her dolls or her Duplo. It’s funny to hear what she focuses on from watch she sees or what we read to her. She also loves playing games and making puzzles. The latter she mainly does on the iPad, though she also has several real puzzles. She’s up to 25-piece puzzles at the moment. Her favourite board game right now is a Disney Princess game (yes I know, pink, princesses, not very feminist, but what can you do she loves them) where you wave a wand around and it tells you how many steps you’re allowed to take. She adores it and it’s like she thinks it’s really a magic wand. Cat also enjoys watching us play the game as the sparkly, flickering wand fascinates her.

Cat meanwhile is standing and walking round the edges of the sofa, the coffee table, and the bookshelves. She’s also trying to walk by pushing around the laundry basket or her high chair. She still loves listening to us reading to Emma, though she doesn’t have the patience to sit still for a story of her own yet. We’ll have to wait a while for that yet, as Emma didn’t really sit still to be read to until she was around eighteen months either. Her favourite toy is Emma’s Duplo. Banging it so it makes noise, riding the cars around, or chewing the animals, or just playing with the blocks, she can do it for a long time for such a small child. This makes me happy as it means I have my hands free to do chores, blog, or read. She’s also starting to talk, though so far she only says papa, mama and sometimes something that resembles Emma. It’s a start though, and as a bonus it’s really cute as well.

Emma, me, and Cat wishing you a fabulous 2013!

Emma, me, and Cat wishing you a fabulous 2013!

So that’s the sum up of our sproglets at the end of this year. I’m looking forward to watching them grow in the next year and seeing their personalities develop and become more distinct, though Emma has oodles of it already. I’ll try and do an update on them every season or so, so if you enjoy these little glimpses of the girls, stay tuned!

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The Bookish Babies is a returning feature, in which I write about my daughters Emma and Cat and our journey to make them love books as much as their father and I do. Find earlier instalments of this series here.

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The Bookish Babies Autumn 2012 Edition

Jordan or Sykes? I can’t choose!

The last Bookish Babies update was about four months ago, so I thought I’d post a new one, as they’re at an age where everything changes really fast. Cat’s already crawling and even starting to try and sit up on her knees. Of course this also means that the books are no longer safe, as you can see on the picture above, she’s trying to get at them as best she can. Sometimes she even succeeds! She’s getting really grabby with them, both from the bookcase and from our hands. If she’s sitting on my lap and I’m reading, she’ll try to get a hold of my book and eat it or just play with the pages. But she still loves being read to. At night, when we’re reading to Emma, she’ll listen too with this really serious, concentrated look on her face, which is really cute. She also babbling a lot, mostly ba-ba-ba-ba but she’ll try and copy the sounds you make as well, which leads to some hilarity if you’re reading to her and she’s in a talkative mood.

It wasn’t me! I didn’t touch no books!

Emma meanwhile is turning into a total little bookworm. She’s spotting letters everywhere, at home, in the store, in the car, it doesn’t matter. She’ll suddenly pipe up and say ‘E for Emma!’ or ‘M for mama!’ or ‘Look, mama! A ‘Z’!’. She also likes to (pretend to) read, whenever she gets the chance. In the picture she’s reading the rules booklet for dominos and telling us the story of Hansel and Gretel, at least that was what was in there according to her. She loves ‘reading’ to Cat, grabbing a book at random and sit next to her and tell her a story, sometimes recognisably something we read to her at bedtime, sometimes the plot of a Dora the Explorer/Team Umizoomi/Bubble Guppies* episode she’s seen on TV, and sometimes just something made up and nonsensical. It always makes Cat laugh though, so she can ‘read’ her whatever she likes! She also likes to nick my book and read to me, but since she’s not always very careful when handling them, I usually take them away from her.

‘And then the witch said…’

One of Emma’s favourite after-dinner games is spotting publisher logos on the back of books. She’s got about five different colours of Penguin identified, a dolphin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a kangaroo (Pocket Books), a star (Gollancz), a Zeppelin (Baen, don’t ask me how she came up with that one, I’ve no clue) and she loves discovering new ones. She has favourites she likes to search out and then she’ll be off trying to find a new one. After we’ve played that game or a board game, it’s bedtime and we read her a bedtime story. Her favourites at the moment are the Dutch translations of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton and The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. These are all fun books. I love Haughton’s colourful, bold illustrations and The Umbrella is all illustrations, no words, so you can make up the story yourself and focus on different things each time you read it.

Emma at work.

Both girls love to play on our keyboards, physical or virtual, as well. Cat has grabby hands of Doom when it comes to my iPad or the keyboards of either of our computers. Emma, on the other hand, has gotten past the grabby stage and now really wants to type. She’ll sit down and say ‘Mama, I want to write.’ She can even already write out names if you help her spell. She’ll find all the letters, she just doesn’t know how to spell yet and at times she has opinions about how a word should be spelled. Cat often ends up Cap, for example. When Wiebe brought the girls to come pick me up from work, Emma even decided that she’d work for a bit, just like mum.

So the girls are thriving and are headed for geekiness at remarkable speed!

*Currently her favourite TV shows.
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The Bookish Babies is a returning feature, in which I write about my daughters Emma and Cat and our journey to make them love books as much as their father and I do. Find earlier instalments of this series here.

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The Bookish Babies Spring 2012 Edition

The Bookish Baby has been the Bookish Babies for a little over two months now and life at Casa Fantastical Librarian has been settling into its new two-kid routine slowly, but surely. Emma adores being a big sister and wants to help us taking care of Cat as much as she can. She tries to give Cat her pacifier when she loses it, she brings her baby toys and, as can be seen above, she likes to read her books. It’s actually kind of funny to hear her repeat things we’ve read to her or hear her point out stuff in her picture books.

Emma is digging picture books at the moment. She won’t let us read from her fairytale books or her Jip en Janneke book, she wants her Richard Scarry Best Word Book Ever, which she has in both Dutch and English or the Swedish picture book she got from her aunt. And she can be pretty insistent about it. We read to her every night before bed and she starts deciding which one she wants to read while we’re still brushing her teeth. If we pick the wrong book she’ll keep saying ‘No, no, the other one.’ until we get the right one. It’s fun to see how much her vocabulary improves from looking at them every night and how many words she retains from night to night.

At the same time she’s learning to recognise letters and numbers and understanding that these make up words. She’s got a game on the iPad called Lola’s Alphabet Train, which she can play in Dutch and it’s amazing how fast she’s picking it up. She’s already finishing the easy level on her own, though the medium level is too hard for her as yet. Every time I see her do stuff like this, I’m just flabbergasted. It makes reading anything myself hard though, as she insists on sitting on my lap and pointing out letters on my page.

So our little geek girl is well on her way to literacy and loving being read to or reading to Cat. Cat in the meantime is fine with everything, as long as she’s near one of us. If she’s fussy I’ll just read to her from whatever I’m reading at the moment and it works as well as it did for Emma, she’ll settle down and even fall asleep in no time.

To end with, here’s a little clip of Emma reading to Cat and me from Erikson’s The Bonehunters.

The Bookish Babies is a returning feature, in which I write about my daughters Emma and Cat and our journey to make them love books as much as their father and I do. Find earlier instalments of this series here.

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The Bookish Baby becomes the Bookish Babies

Peacefully asleep in the hospital

Finally I can share some baby news! Yesterday B2 arrived!

Her name is Catherine Sophie Elizabeth van der Salm, Cat in everyday use. She was born yesterday afternoon at 12.29 pm. She weighed in at 3830 grams and she is in perfect health. Everything went very smoothly and the both of us are doing very well. Emma is completely in love with her little sister and is giving her kisses galore and trying to share her toys with her.

There will be pre-written blogposts up on the blog, but I might skip next Monday’s Canavan review, as I haven’t it up yet and I’m not sure whether I’ll manage it before Monday. Hopefully we’ll be back to our usual programming in a week or two!

Look at all that hair!

The Bookish Babies is a returning feature, in which I write about my daughters Emma and Cat and our journey to make them love books as much as their father and I do. Find earlier instalments of this series here.

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The Bookish Baby 2011

In the past year I’ve tried to document our reading journey with our eldest little girl, Emma, during most of her second year. I call the series The Bookish Baby, and so far there have been three posts, a little less than I’d hoped, but life got in the way, unfortunately. When I started the series in February, Emma was eleven months old and just starting to discover the wonder of books. Her reading consumption mostly consisted of listening to me reading from my own books, but we’d also started reading to her from her own books.

By the second post in June, when she was fifteen months, she was able to say the word book and anything remotely resembling a book wasn’t safe from her. She wanted to be just like mum and dad and read her own books. She’d climb up on the couch, grab whatever book she could and sit down and mimic our turning pages. Reading to her was getting difficult as she’d grab the book and start telling her own version of the story, opening the pages at random and turning the book upside-down if she felt like it!

Now, at almost twenty-one months, she’s talking up a storm and pointing out and naming whatever she comes across. Not always accurately, all birds are ducks, for example, but she’s learning new words every day. She’s also demanding to be read to more and she seems to be developing a preference for certain books, wanting to hear those again and again. One of them is Kaatje verhuist or Katie moves house, which tells the story of a little girl’s moving day. She loves that book, pointing out Kaatje on every page and telling us what else you can see in the picture. We’re planning to get her a good old Richard Scarry book, in which you can point out things and teach her the words next week, so she can practice her words even more. I’ve also got this game on the iPad for her, it’s an alphabet game, in English, where she has to press the right letters or numbers that they ask for, which she likes to play and she does seem to recognise some of the letters, though mostly she gets them right by just pressing the squares at random!

So in a year, Emma’s gone from a baby to a toddler, who loves her books and wants to look at all of them. She about melted my heart last month when she stood in front of our bookcase, looking very contemplative and when I asked what she was doing, she turned to me, pointed at the books and said ‘Beautiful!’ I was so proud, she already gets it!

The coming year will be interesting, not just because she’ll be growing and developing further and learning more words and maybe even some letters, but also because she’ll have to learn to share attention with her little sister. I plan on reading to her while I’m nursing B2, so she won’t feel left out and who knows, maybe she’ll even ‘read’ to B2! Whatever happens, I’ll try to keep up these Bookish Baby posts.
                                                                                                                                                          
The Bookish Baby is a returning feature, in which I write about my daughter Emma and our journey to make her love books as much as her father and I do. Find earlier instalments of this series here.

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Unexpected Blog Silence

So you might have noticed that it’s been rather quiet on the blog for the past two weeks. Partly this was due to me having those two weeks off work and, especially in the first week, our household’s obsessive watching of the Tour the France. Add to that the fact that I had to study (again) for the theoretical exam for my driver’s license and that we took Emma to the zoo for the first time last Wednesday and you can see I’ve been pretty busy. But being busy is a normal state of life when you have a sixteen-month-old running around (because yes, Emma is walking now!), so it’s not really a good reason for the complete blog silence that was going on.

No, the real reason for the sudden blog silence is this:

Yes, we’re expecting another baby. Hopefully B2 (as we’re calling him or her) will make their appearance on February 28th next year. Unfortunately, as with Emma, I don’t have morning sickness, I have 24/7 sickness and about three times as bad as last time. So I’ve spent the past two weeks lying flat on the couch, in between studying and taking care of Emma. Luckily, Wiebe was home to take care of all the stinky diapers, so I didn’t have to deal with those!

Of course every cloud has a silver lining and in this case it has two. One, we’ll hopefully be the the proud parents of another lovely little baby in seven months and two, I have also spent most of my time lying flat reading. I have ten books waiting to have their reviews written. Hopefully, the nausea will clear soon and I’ll be able to type them up. I owe a couple of reviews and two guest posts, which I will try and get out as soon as possible, but other than that, things might be slowing down from the three posts a week for a while. I’ll try and post at least once a week, but I can’t promise much more until the nausea passes. But look for at least a July recap – August upfront post this weekend and hopefully a review then too.

So that’s my news! Again, sorry for the sudden silence, but now you know why :-D

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The Bookish Baby part 2

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At fourteen months Emma’s almost walking on her own, she’s starting to mimic words and gestures, and while being completely adorable, can be quite a handful. She’s full of energy and very crafty when it comes to getting at stuff she’s not allowed to play with.

Naturally one of the first words she’s been saying is boek, the Dutch word for book. It took her a while to get there as she’s still struggling with the ‘k’ sound, but last week she finally managed it. So now, she’ll grab a book she’s not supposed to touch, turn around really proudly and say ‘boek’ with a huge grin on her face. Try being stern and parently when you’re facing that! But mostly, she does know to leave them alone and when she grabs them, she immediately hands them over, as if that was the plan all along. I was just getting it for you, mummy, honest!

We still try to read to her a lot, but she’s too energetic to sit still for long at the moment. Beyond that she tries to grab the book and often starts telling us a story. Turning the book this way and that, opening up pages at random and babbling Emma-speak incessantly. She can keep that up for half an hour. She also had a period where she dragged the same book with her everywhere and we’d have to read it with her a lot. It’s a book about piglet and his friends and features a lot of farm animals. And after reading it to her for about a gazillion times, she can actually point out the animals if you ask her to. Granted, it’s mostly limited to the piglet, the cat, the dog, the chicken and the horse, and at most half of the time we ask her, but I was impressed anyway.

She’s been mimicking a lot lately, from waving her hands around when talking as her dad does, to tilting her head the way I do, to trying to look like she’s properly reading a book. She’ll climb onto the couch, pick up a book she can get at, sit next to me and open it up and start turning pages. At times, she’ll even point at a word on the page and look at me as if to ask what it means. I’ve been reading them out for her, in the hope that she’ll grasp the concept of the little squiggly things having meaning and so far I think it has been working.

When we were in London, I picked up an English picture book and Emma was also gifted one by Liz, so we’ve been alternating them, though I haven’t actually read her Liz’s one yet, as it’s a really pretty one with normal paper pages and I’m afraid she’ll tear it. But hopefully she’ll pick up some more English words from that.

So that’s an update on our little (well not that little any more) bookish baby! Anyone have any similar experiences with their little ones?
                                                                                                                                                          
The Bookish Baby is a returning feature, in which I write about my daughter Emma and our journey to make her love books as much as her father and I do. Find earlier instalments of this series here.

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The Bookish Baby

One of the things my parents gave me that I’m most grateful for is my love of reading. I grew up in a house filled with books and until the age of eight, my dad read to me each night before bed. They started reading to me early, one of the first words I said was ‘voorlezen’, read to me in Dutch, and to this day my dad can recite my favourite book as an eighteen-month-old toddler from memory, the book being Poesje Nel by Dick Bruna. I can’t remember not being read to or reading myself and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Since my parents read almost exclusively in English, I started reading English books when I was in Group 7 of elementary school. I took home Orwell’s Animal Farm from the library and never looked back, even now I only occasionally read a Dutch book, most of my fare is in English.

So, that being said, when we became parents to a little girl last year, one of the things I promised myself was that I’d try and pass on my love of books and reading to Emma and I would try and teach her English from a young age as well. So I started reading to her from day one, well day three actually. I’d read to her from my own books at first, as she didn’t understand anyway, so she heard parts of N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest, Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter, Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, Blake Charlton’s Spellwright, all of Brent Weeks’ books, Beowulf and Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon to name but a few. At first it was just so she could hear my voice and fall asleep when she was fussy, but pretty soon she actually stayed awake and seemed to listen, even though she couldn’t have understood any of it. Now that’s she’s eleven months, I still read to her from my books from time to time, but we’ve also started to read to her from some of the picture books we have and it’s amazing to see our little bundle of energy just sit and look at the story we tell her.

She even has her own play books, which she loves. And any time she sees a book or something remotely like it lying around, she’ll make a grab for it. Books and anything with buttons and computers, those are her favourite ‘can’t touch, but want to’-items, she truly is our daughter in that. It’s also made it interesting now she’s crawling because the books on the bottom shelves are no longer safe from her curious explorations. Never mind that their are the size and heft of Chihuahua maimers, such as the Jordan hardbacks and the Potter hardbacks, she’ll lift the out of the case. As a result we’ve had to move all the books up a shelf and now have a bare row along the bottom of the book cases!

I thought it would be fun to do some semi-regular posts (once every few months) on Emma and how and what we’re reading with her. And also maybe get some tips from the more experienced parents out there. How did you inspire your kids to read? What are some of the classic stories you think any parent should read to their children? And for those of you that are bi-lingual, how did you do that with your kids, did you have the same titles in both languages and alternate them or just books in both languages and read whatever they asked for?

So what do you think? Do you think this would be a fun addition to the blog or do you think I should avoid any baby talk? Any suggestions on what we could read to Emma?

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